“regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format...To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms, and not have the eBook available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime.”
—Jaime Carey, chief merchant at Barnes & Noble
Well, those DC graphic novels that are going to be exclusive on the Amazon Kindle Fire color e-reader are really going to be exclusive now that Barnes & Noble is pulling them from the shelves in their brick-and-mortar stores.
We heard some unofficial mentions of this earlier this week, and today Publishers Weekly's Calvin Reid got some Barnes & Noble reps to talk on the record and admit that they are pulling the bookstore equivalent of taking their bat and their ball and going home.
The LA Times is reporting that Amazon's exclusive is only for four months, starting on November 15, which clouds the picture a little more. Will Barnes & Noble put those graphic novels back on the shelves next March? What will they do with them in the meantime? Return them to the publisher? Store them in a warehouse? Oh, wait, they will still sell them via their online store, so they probably won't just toss them in a dumpster and set them on fire.
It seems a little silly, as the main effect of this is going to be to slightly reduce sales at Barnes & Noble's own stores. On the other hand, given that B&N is in the business of making money, my guess is that these books weren't selling particularly well to begin with and taking them off the sales floor is a cheap way to make a statement. If they were selling like gangbusters, the guys in the suits would probably find some other way to protest.